Do you want to better understand what people really think and feel about your organization’s brand, and what’s holding them back from becoming a loyal advocate? Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to gain these insights in real time. Social media platforms are capturing a well of data on people’s behaviors—their likes, dislikes, and opinions—within a number of characters and emojis.

For a health care marketer, this data can be a gold mine. What I hear from hospital marketers is that there isn’t a lot of buzz or sentiment about the brand outside of crisis events. Here, we break down the value of social media listening, the right ways to do it, and the payoff.

What Is Social Listening?

At its root, it’s the process of collecting data from social platforms and forums for your brand. This mined data is then analyzed to find trends and useful insights, and influences a wide range of aspects of your brand. It’s a valuable tool to measure brand sentiment, and the strengths and weaknesses of social media efforts, as well as to gauge consumer reactions about your brand, competition, and the industry.

The Impact of Social Listening

Social listening allows you to curate unfiltered social media conversations to better understand the marketplace. It’s an often overlooked strategy in appreciating your audiences and the impact of your brand. If you listen to your audience, you are better equipped to give them the service or product they want, and as a result, strengthen your health care brand and audience engagement.

Here are a few ways you can make a big impact with social listening:
  1.  Inform brand health and reputation.
  2.  Use keywords and topics to generate relevant leads and retain existing customers.
  3.  Leverage consumer experiences to improve customer service.
  4.  Use popular opinion to make adjustments to your product or service.
  5.  Identify influencers and advocates to build relationships with your brand.
  6.  Learn where your audience spends their most engaged time online.
  7.  Track campaign performance and image recognition.
  8.  Conduct trends research and gather demographic Insights.

Which Social Listening Tool Is Right For You?

How can you easily put social listening into practice? Using a tool provides a level of sophistication and accuracy, saving you time to gather data, so that you can access the information in real time and implement changes.  One of our favorites is Brand Watch because of its accuracy in capturing mentions that are actually relevant to our clients’ brands. We’re also able to visualize the data easily to gain insight and take action quickly.

Here are several other tools that offer listening capabilities depending on the level of investment you’re able to commit to and the size of your social following:

Taking Action

Consider the value. How do you mine for information in a cluttered social media space? Now that you know the value of social listening, here’s a high-level view of how to put social media listening into action.

Set Clear Objectives

Determine the objective of the search. As you know, there is too much data to just jump into it. To really do a deep dive and see all of the reactions and brand implications, you need to take a look at your target audience personas and business goals first. Who are you trying to attract? What social media platforms does your audience use? Perhaps your goal is to capture consumer opinions regarding a relevant service line and measure consumer satisfaction and evolution over time. You’ll want to set queries that track brand perception, reputation score, and response performance, over a set period or time.

Mine for Data

Once you’ve got clear goals laid out, you can work out what data you’ll need. Leverage your tool to set searches for social media intelligence. Gathering social data could be sophisticated or it could be a look at what’s happening right now, a glance at what’s trending in your industry, or a quick check of a dashboard to see what discussion around your competitors looks like that day.

Analyze and Extract Insights

Take a look at what you’ve collected. You don’t need to look at every single data point, but make sure you have the information you need. The analytics part of social listening is finding insight from the data—who is saying what, topics of conversation, where it takes place, authors, and so on. According to Brand Watch, here are some things you’ll want to look for:

  • sudden peaks and troughs in mention volume
  • seasonal trends
  • sentiment changes
  • differences between demographics
  • related topics
  • specific product conversation differences
  • conclusions that go against assumed knowledge
Keep competition close

Keep tabs on the competition that matters most to you. With the correct setup in place with a tool, you can do on-the-spot health checks of your brand’s conversation compared to competitors in the last few months, weeks, days, hours or minutes.

Social media networks are no longer an isolated marketing channel solely dedicated to communication and promotional efforts. Social listening has provided measurable results for brands to have a broader view of the health care industry and consumer sentiment. We know that social listening, while incredibly powerful, can often be challenging to begin and to leverage those insights. What challenges are you facing? Leave a comment below.